ua en ru

Blinken to set off on visit to Middle East and to visit Israel - AP

Blinken to set off on visit to Middle East and to visit Israel - AP Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State (photo: Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit the Middle East next week. This will be his seventh diplomatic mission to the region since the start of Israel's active military campaign against the Hamas group, according to the Associated Press.

The US State Department's press service did not mention Secretary Blinken's intention to visit Israel in a statement on Saturday. However, according to the AP, an Israeli foreign ministry official discussed plans for such a visit.

According to the Israeli official, Blinken will visit Israel on Tuesday, but the specific city where the State Secretary will stop is not specified.

As reported by the State Department, Blinken will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday during this Middle East mission. This trip will take place just two days after his return to Washington from a visit to China.

Blinken will attend the World Economic Forum conference and meet with foreign ministers of Arab countries in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

Since mid-October, Blinken has been shuttling between Israel and most of its Arab and Muslim neighbors, seeking to increase aid to the civilian population in Gaza, prevent the spread of conflict in the region, and garner support for post-war reconstruction and governance plans in Gaza - all while loudly supporting Israel's right to self-defense.

Visit against the backdrop of negotiations on ceasefire in Gaza and hostage release

The information about Blinken's likely visit to Israel comes against the backdrop of a pause in the question of a possible agreement between Israel and the Hamas group on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of hostages.

On Saturday, Hamas militants said they were reviewing a new Israeli proposal for a ceasefire, as Egypt intensified efforts to reach a deal to end the war and prevent a possible IDF ground offensive on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

Meanwhile, according to Western press reports, Washington has been trying to dissuade Israel from conducting a large-scale military operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians have fled to escape the fighting.

Earlier, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that Blinken would discuss current efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza that secures the release of hostages, and how Hamas stands between the Palestinian people and a ceasefire.

The State Department also added that Blinken would emphasize the importance of preventing the spread of conflict and discuss efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region, including through a path to an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel.

It was previously reported that Israel had warned the Hamas group of an offensive on Rafah if the militants did not agree to release some of the 133 hostages who remain.